Photo courtesy of: The Express Tribune Pakistan and AFP
..And the Muslim Slaughter of Christians Continues for 1,400 Years and Counting…
by, Rana Tanveer & Tahir Khan | The Express Tribune Pakistan
LAHORE: Fourteen people were
killed [murdered] and more than 70 injured when two Taliban suicide bombers attacked churches in Lahore on Sunday, sparking mob violence in which two other suspected militants died.
Up to 4,000 Christians later took to the streets of Lahore, many armed with clubs as they smashed vehicles and attacked a city bus station in a rare show of anger.
The bombings occurred during prayers at two churches located around half a kilometre apart in the city’s Youhanabad neighborhood that is home to more than 100,000 Christians, officials said.
Video courtesy of: RuptlyTV
Doctor Mohammad Saeed Sohbin, medical superintendent of the nearby General Hospital, told AFP: “We have received 14 dead bodies and 70 injured,” adding that the figure did not include the suspected militants who were lynched or the bombers.
Zahid Pervez, the top health official in Lahore, confirmed the death toll and told reporters that 78 people were wounded in both attacks.
Broken window panes, blood and shoes were scattered across the blast sites.
Christians mourn the loss of their children. Photo courtesy of: The Express Tribune Pakistan and Reuters
Police spokeswoman Nabila Ghazanfar said two policemen guarding the churches were among those killed in the attacks, while two people were beaten to death by protesters who took to the streets after the blasts.
“Policemen on duty at both the entrances tried to stop them but the bombers blew themselves up,” she told AFP.
“The angry mob protesting after the blast beat to death two people whom they suspected of being associates of the attackers.”
Relatives mourn following the twin blasts in Lahore. Photo courtesy of: The Express Tribune Pakistan and AP
An AFP photographer saw the bodies of the two suspected militants on fire after the beatings. It was not clear whether they were still alive at the time.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s Jamaatul Ahrar faction described the blasts as suicide attacks and vowed to continue their campaign.
Christians make up around two percent of Pakistan’s mainly Muslim population of 180 million. They have been targeted in attacks and riots in recent years.
Video courtesy of: RuptlyTV
Sunday’s attacks were the worst on the community since a devastating double suicide-bombing in Peshawar in September 2013 killed 82 people.
That came months after more than 3,000 Muslim protesters torched some 100 houses as they rampaged through Joseph Colony, another Christian neighbourhood of Lahore, following blasphemy allegations against a Christian man.
The thousands of Christian protesters who clashed with police on Sunday attacked their cars with stones and sticks, as women wept and beat their heads and chests.
The protesters, some wearing crosses round their necks, later turned on the city’s bus rapid transit system — a signature project of the ruling PML-N party of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
PM Nawaz in a statement condemned the church bombings and “directed provincial governments to ensure the security of (the) public and their properties”.
Christian community protests against attacks. Photo courtesy of: The Express Tribune Pakistan and EPA
Zaeem Qadri, a spokesman for the provincial government, said efforts were being made to talk to the protesters to stop the rioting but “emotions are very high because their churches have been attacked”.
Christians also took to the streets in other cities, including Karachi, where around 200 protesters blocked a main road and burnt tyres. There were also demonstrations in Peshawar, Multan and in Quetta.
Sunday’s attack was the first by the Taliban since three of their major factions said on Thursday they had reunited.
Security tightened across churches in the country. Photo courtesy of: The Express Tribune Pakistan and AFP
Pakistan Army has stepped up its fight against militants since Taliban gunmen massacred more than 150 people, most of them children, at a school in Peshawar in December.
A moratorium on executions in terror cases was lifted and the constitution amended to set up military courts for the speedy trial of terrorism cases. Later, the death penalty was reinstated for all capital cases.